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What is the Address Confidentiality Program?

​The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) provides an important service to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The program has two basic parts. First, the ACP provides a substitute address for participants who have moved to a new location unknown to their perpetrator. The second part of the program provides participants with a free first-class confidential mail forwarding service. The ACP is not for everyone. A victim service professional from a domestic violence, sexual assault or a victim service program can help determine if the ACP is right for the victim as part of their safety plan.



ACP and Employment-based Issues

Many businesses are discovering the health-related costs associated with rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide by intimate partners.
 
In fact, the American Institute on Domestic Violence has offered the following statistics:
• Estimated health-related costs have exceeded $5.8 billion each year. Of this total, nearly $4.1 billion is for victims requiring direct medical and mental health care services.
• Lost productivity and earnings due to intimate partner violence accounts for almost $1.8 billion each year. 
• 68% of senior executives surveyed agreed that their company’s financial performance would benefit from addressing the issue of domestic violence among its employees. 
• 94% of corporate security directors identify domestic violence as a high security risk.
• Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. 
• 56% of corporate leaders are personally aware of specific employees who are affected by domestic violence.

More and more employers are acknowledging and accepting the obligation to assure and provide a safe workplace environment by putting into effect domestic and workplace violence policies. Not only do employers have an obligation to respond to their own employees but also to maintain any safety and security measures within a company that offers a service to the public. If you have not developed a workplace violence policy within your company you can review the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (www.OSHA.gov) guidelines for guidance on developing a policy and prevention program.

What does ACP mean for my business?
The Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) requires government agencies to accept the ACP substitute address from a participant whenever a residential, work or school address is required. Private businesses are not required to accept the substitute address, however, the ACP strongly encourages participants to ask that their employers accept the substitute address. The substitute address is a PO Box address that further assists the participant in keeping their residential, work and/or school address confidential. Keeping the workplace information of an ACP participant confidential can assist both the employer and employee in maintaining safety.

Can I verify my employee is an ACP participant?
A participant’s enrollment with the ACP is not confidential. Information regarding their actual residential, school and work address is protected and confidential.

How can my business learn more?
Contact the Office of Victim Advocate at 1.800.563.6399 for further information including brochures, posters and employee training.


Strategies for Employers

1. Develop a detailed policy and plan on violence within the workplace.
2. Recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse and any signs of an abuser.
3. Provide a supportive workplace environment through educational programs, displaying posters, and ensuring the availability of brochures from local victim service agencies.
 
4. Accept the ACP substitute address as the employer’s official address.
 
 5. Know your local, state and national resources.

 Providing a supportive workplace environment through education and prevention programs helps all your employees. An employer can maintain a safe and supportive environment for an employee to disclose their abuse and get some help. Co-workers can feel comfortable supporting someone who may be in an abusive relationship.

Department of Human Services: ACP and Welfare-based Issues

​If you visit a county assistance office for services such as food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), you should use your ACP address. Show the county assistance office your ACP card to let them know that you are enrolled in the program. The county office may need to call ACP to verify your enrollment. They may also verify that you are seeking services from the correct county.

​Who is eligible?

​Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and persons who live in the same household as the victim may apply to participate in the ACP. The ACP will determine if the applicant meets the requirements for participation. Applicants should have moved or be moving to a new address that is unknown to the perpetrator.

ACP and Financial-based Issues

​The Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Act (23 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 6701 et seq) created the Pennsylvania Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). The ACP provides an important service to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking by providing a legal substitute address for victims who have moved to a new location unknown to their perpetrator. State and local government agencies are required to use the ACP substitute address as the participant’s legal address. Banks are now required to accept the substitute address, allowing participants to keep their physical address confidential. This letter will explain the requirements of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) ruling.

An ACP participant’s account profile must indicate the customer’s ACP substitute address, including their ACP number. All correspondence, including any potential legal correspondence, must be sent to the customer’s substitute address. All ACP participants are provided a laminated authorization card, which includes their complete ACP substitute address. A sample copy of the card is attached to this letter.

The ACP substitute address is:

(Participant’s Name)
(Participant’s ACP #)
PO Box 2465
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2465

The only time you may use an address other than the ACP substitute address is for the Customer Identification Program (CIP) requirement. On November 3, 2009 the United States Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), authorized an exemption for participants in address confidentiality programs (ACPs) from the usual requirement that people provide their actual residence address for bank account records. The letter specifically states:

"A customer who participates in a state-created ACP shall be treated as not having a residential or business street address and a secretary of state, or other state entity serving as a designated agent of the customer consistent with the terms of the ACP, will act as another contact individual for the purpose of complying with FinCEN's rules." ~ US Department of Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, letter dated November 3, 2009.

Pennsylvania’s ACP is administered by the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate (OVA). In accordance with the FinCEN Ruling, OVA will serve as another contact individual for the purpose of the customer profile address for participants in Pennsylvania’s ACP, allowing banks to comply with FinCEN’s rules without obtaining a participant’s residential address. The following address, including the ACP#, must be documented in the record as the customer profile address for an ACP participant banking customer:

(Participant’s Name)
(Participant’s ACP#)
Office of Victim Advocate
1101 South Front Street, Suite 5200
Harrisburg, PA 17104

No banking correspondence should ever be sent to this address. No correspondence for ACP participants will be accepted at this address. This address is only to be used as the customer profile address for the ACP participants’ banking records. The OVA’s address is only to be used for internal banking purposes.

The Office of Victim Advocate will not be responsible for any collections actions.

Thank you for your cooperation in helping to keep ACP participants safe. If you have questions about Pennsylvania’s Address Confidentiality Program, please contact us at 1.800.563.6399.

​Department of State: ACP and voting Issues

​The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) and the Pennsylvania Department of State are working together to keep Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) participants’ addresses private. Participants cannot register to vote at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) or with other state agencies. Our program works directly with the county voter registration office. Before an election, ACP participants will receive a ballot and use this ballot to vote. The participant returns the ballot to the director at the county voter registration office.

The public information list is a list of all registered voters. Only ACP mailing addresses will be on this list.

The street list is a list of registered voters for political candidates and political parties that is used to see who is in their voting precinct. Only a participant’s ACP number will appear on this list.

District Registers, also called “poll books,” are used at polling sites throughout Pennsylvania. These are the books a person signs when they vote. Only a participant’s ACP number will appear.

How does someone apply to participate in the ACP?

​Applicants do not apply directly to the ACP. Application is made in person at a local domestic violence, sexual assault or victim service program located throughout the state. A parent or guardian can apply to the program on behalf of a minor or individual who is incapacitated. The application process involves meeting with a victim service professional who can help an applicant determine whether the ACP should be a part of the participant’s overall safety plan, explain the program services, explain the participant’s responsibilities and assist with the completion of the application materials. The applicant will mail the completed application to the ACP.

ACP and Utility-based Issues

Most utility companies are private businesses and, therefore, do not have to accept an ACP address. However, many companies work to protect a participant's actual address the best way they can. Utility companies may require your residential address for service.

If a participant must have their name on the account, use minimal personal information required to open an account and place an additional security setting on the account, such as:
•Password protecting the account
•Transferring the account to a special services department
•A confidential “flag” on the account
•Using the substitute address as their mailing address
•Use any other measures to protect a participant's physical address


Department of Transportation: ACP and Transportation-based issues

ACP participants may use the substitute address as the ACP participant’s actual address when applying to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for the following:

(1) A vehicle certificate of title
(2) A perfection of a security interest in a vehicle
(3) Vehicle registration, including the process of self-certification of financial responsibility
(4) Applying for or renewing a Commonwealth driver’s license or a PennDOT identification card

ACP participants are responsible for any fee associated with the issuance of an updated Commonwealth driver’s license or identification card.

ACP participants shall use a centralized address provided by PennDOT when applying for or renewing a Commonwealth driver’s license or a PennDOT identification card.

Please contact the ACP office regarding any questions about PennDOT and ACP at 1.800.563.6399.


What happens after someone is accepted into the ACP?

​After acceptance into ACP, the participant will receive a packet of program information, which includes an ACP authorization card. The ACP card includes the participant’s name, signature, and their substitute address including their ACP number. Their substitute address is to be used as their private mailing address. It is the participant’s responsibility to tell state and local government agencies that they are a participant in the ACP. The participant’s enrollment will be effective for 3 years unless otherwise cancelled by the participant or the ACP before the expiration date.

Department of Education: ACP and Education-based Issues

The Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality Act, (Act 188 of 2004) established Pennsylvania's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP).

The goal of the ACP is to help victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking, and their children, maintain their safety by keeping their location confidential.

Public schools may encounter ACP participants who are students, parents or school personnel. Although the number of ACP participants in any public school may be few, their security needs may be significant. Therefore, it is important that public schools be prepared to respond appropriately to the unique challenges presented by ACP participants.

The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) provides a process to release a student’s records without informing the former school district of the ACP participant’s whereabouts. It is important that districts take care if it is necessary to contact any former school district regarding an ACP student, so this contact does not jeopardize the family's safety. For more information, contact the OVA or the Pennsylvania Department of Education - School Services Unit.

The released records from the student’s former school will remain sealed upon receipt at the OVA and will be forwarded to the district of residence for the student promptly upon receipt of this signed request.

The whereabouts of this student are to be kept confidential. If expected items are missing or there are questions about the former school records, please write to the OVA for assistance before contacting the former school district.


How is the substitute address used?

​The substitute address used by a participant is not related to their actual address. The address may be used by the participant for all first-class mail, registered and certified mail. The ACP does not forward magazines, packages or junk mail. The participant may also use the substitute address on all of their address return labels. An ACP participant should use the ACP substitute address every time they interact with state and local government agencies. The participant is safer when very few people know where they actually live. If the participant provides the state or local government their actual address, there is no guarantee it will remain confidential. It is important to understand that once enrolled in ACP, first class mail will be delayed 5-7 days from the date it was sent. Private companies such as department stores, utility companies, insurance companies and banks do not have to accept the substitute address. But many businesses are willing to do so. The participant should not hesitate to ask them to send all their mail to their ACP address.

The Court System

​If the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) participant is a victim, witness, plaintiff or defendant involved in an ongoing civil or criminal case, the Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) will provide, after certification, notice of the ACP participant’s substitute address to appropriate court officials in which an ACP participant is a victim, witness, plaintiff or defendant. Appropriate officials may include, but may not be limited to, the county district attorney, clerks of court or other agencies with prosecutorial authority.

 
 If an ACP participant -- who is a victim, witness, plaintiff or defendant involved in an ongoing civil or criminal case -- cancels, withdraws or expires from ACP participation, OVA will provide notice to any appropriate court officials previously notified.

If you have any questions about the courts and ACP, please contact the ACP office at 1.800.563.6399.

​What are the ACP participant’s responsibilities?

​The ACP address is shared by all other ACP participants. Each participant is assigned a personal ACP #. The personal ACP # is what separates the participant from all the other ACP participants. The ACP participant must inform everyone who sends mail to them to use their ACP# when using the ACP address. Should a participant move or change their name, they need to call ACP as soon as possible. The participant may be cancelled from the program if they fail to notify ACP within 5 days of a change. Upon enrollment, an ACP participant should notify the United States Postal Service to have mail forwarded from their old address to the ACP substitute address. This is the only time an ACP participant should notify the United States Postal Service of their address change. If a participant changes their address/moves after being enrolled in ACP, they DO NOT notify the United States Postal Service of a change in their address. This will change the address of all the other participant’s in the program. When a participant signs the ACP application they designate OVA as their representative to receive mail and legal documents for them. A participant cannot avoid their legal responsibilities simply by refusing to accept mail the ACP forwards to them. Although ACP signs for certified documents, the participant is still responsible for any legal response or actions that may need to take place. ACP enrollment is effective for three (3) years. A program participant must reapply if they wish to continue in the program.

​Will an ACP participant’s address ever be disclosed?

​After enrollment into ACP, 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 6701 et seq mandates a participant’s residential, work, and/or actual address to be confidential. Only under special circumstances can a participant‘s actual address be disclosed. These situations include:
• A state or local government agency requesting a waiver applies to the ACP to release a participant’s actual address.
• A court order directs OVA to release the participant’s address.
• In an extreme case of an emergency where a participant and/or family members are in danger.
• A participant is under investigation by law enforcement.
                
A state and local government agency may request a waiver for a participant’s actual address when the agency has an administrative need for the actual address and cannot meet its statutory or administrative obligations without disclosure of the participant’s actual address.

​Can an ACP participant be cancelled from the program?

The ACP may cancel a program participant’s eligibility if the participant:
•Provides false or incorrect information on their application to the ACP.
•Fails to notify the ACP of a change in address within five (5) days.
•Fails to notify the ACP of a name change within five (5) days.
•Mail is returned to ACP as non-deliverable.
•Fails to renew their application prior to the expiration date.
•No longer wants to be in the program; cancels their participation in the program.

If a participant is cancelled from ACP, they may reapply to the program by completing a new application.


Can other household members participate in the ACP?

​Yes. A person who is a member of the same household as the program participant may also use the ACP program. An adult cohabitant or child over age 18 must apply separately for ACP participant.

​What kind of mail is forwarded?

​All first-class mail, registered and certified mail is forwarded to participants. Magazines, packages and junk mail are not forwarded.

​How is the personal ACP number (#) used?

​The personal ACP number must be on all mail sent to the ACP participant. The personal ACP number is what separates each participant’s mail from the mail of all other participants. Everyone who sends mail to an ACP participant must be told to use the personal ACP number# following the participant’s name.

What happens if the ACP receives packages addressed to the participant?

​The ACP program is unable to accept packages. Participants should make arrangements to have packages shipped to trusted family members or friends.

What does a participant do if their ACP card is lost?

​Notify the ACP immediately at 1.800.563.6399.

When may the ACP substitute address be used?

​The ACP substitute address may be used whenever a participant’s home, work or school address is required by state and county government agencies. Their state and local government records are protected, making it difficult for perpetrators to find their victims by attempting to use public records.

What state and local government agencies accept the ACP substitute address?

​The ACP substitute address is accepted for court documents and government records such as driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, voter registrations, school records, school enrollment, library cards, public welfare documents and the WIC program. When pending civil or criminal proceedings are documented by the victim on the ACP application, OVA notifies the court of the participant’s substitute address following enrollment into the ACP.

May the ACP participant use the substitute address for mail that is not from state or local government agencies?

​The ACP participant should ask businesses such as banks, credit unions, credit card companies, insurance companies and utility companies if they will accept the substitute address. While they are not legally required to accept the ACP address, many are willing to do so.

What if organizations or businesses refuse to accept the ACP substitute address?

​OVA is available to assist if ACP participants encounter organizations or businesses that are not familiar with the ACP or refuse to accept the substitute address. We will advocate on the behalf of participants as needed

Is a participant’s mail always sent to the residence of the participant?

​An ACP participant may choose a mailing address different from their residence address. However, the Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) must know the participant’s residence address and current phone number. OVA will forward mail to the mailing address chosen by the participant.

If approved for the ACP, how long is a participant enrolled in the program?

​Three years, unless the participant withdraws from the ACP or the Office of Victim Advocate cancels their participation. Two months prior to a participant's expiration date, the ACP will send a renewal application to complete if a participant wishes to continue in the program.

Is a person’s participation in the ACP confidential?

​The fact that a person is participating in the ACP is not confidential. If asked, the ACP will verify program participation and that the ACP substitute address is the legal mailing address of the participant. The actual address of the participant remains confidential.

What does an ACP participant do when they move to a new location while enrolled in the program?

​If a participant moves to a new address while enrolled in the program, the participant notifies the ACP of their address change by sending written notification of their new address to the ACP. The participant does NOT file a change of address with the United States Postal Service. (The ACP substitute address is a P.O. Box number that is shared by all other participants in the program. Changing the address at the post office while enrolled in the program would change the address of all participants.)

What does a participant do if they change their name?

​The participant must send legal documentation of their name change to the ACP.

What else does the participant need to know?

​Following enrollment into the ACP the participant will receive a welcome packet, which answers many questions about the ACP.

Examples include:
•How does an ACP participant apply for their driver’s license and vehicle registration?
•How do out of state license holders apply for a PA driver’s license?
•How does an ACP participant vote?
•What if an ACP participant wants to buy property?
•How does an ACP participant enroll their child in school?